Northrop Grumman has completed the first flight tests of its LITENING advanced targeting pod on the F/A-18 Super Hornet.

The trials follow the US Navy’s replacement of its Hornet legacy targeting pods with the system earlier this year.

During the trials, pilots conducted maneuvers and combat operations, including ground-moving target tracking, air-to-air tracking, and target designation.

They also tested LITENING’s eye-safe training laser mode, which provides realistic training with combat controllers on the ground.

The pilots had not received advanced training before the flight tests to demonstrate the LITENING pod’s ease of use, according to the company.

“This first flight demonstrated LITENING’s ability to rapidly add modern, upgradeable mission capabilities to the Super Hornet,” Northrop Grumman Navigation, Targeting, and Survivability Vice President James Conroy said.

“The pod’s digital video, autonomous target tracking, and laser sensors will give Naval aviators an entirely new set of capabilities for operations over land and sea today, and the growth capabilities built into LITENING’s modular design ensure that the pod can evolve to meet changing requirements.”

The LITENING Advanced Targeting Pod

LITENING is an electro-optical infrared sensor system that allows pilots to detect, identify, and track targets.

It features high-definition digital colored video, 1K short and medium-wave infrared sensors, advanced 2-color laser designation, near-real-time viewing, plug-and-play data links, and multiple laser spot tracking.

Northrop Grumman has delivered over 900 LITENING pods to international customers, according to the firm. It is currently in service with the US Marine Corps, Air Force, and Air National Guard.


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